Jorge Bonifacio on his suspension: I take full responsibility
The Royals are historically bad.
They are on pace to lose 110 games for the first time in club history and have performed at unprecedented levels in June in terms of batting average and runs scored.
But good news is on the way. Outfielder Jorge Bonifacio is done serving the 80-game suspension handed to him when he tested positive for the performance-enhancing drug Boldenone during spring training.
He joined the 25-man roster Thursday, recalled from a rehab assignment one day before the Royals were scheduled to start a three-game series in Seattle. To make room for him, utility man Ryan Goins was designated for assignment.
The Royals (25-55) are in desperate need of Bonifacio's bat. In a 5-19 June, the Royals' .190 batting average is the worst in baseball and the worst in a single month in franchise history. The latter distinction once belonged to the 1992 Royals, who batted .207 in 20 April games and scored 54 runs before finishing with a 72-90 record.
The team has scored 53 times in June, 25 fewer times than the Washington Nationals, who have scored the second-fewest runs this month.
The Royals have floated a number of patchwork solutions in recent weeks to provide the spark to a lineup that lost Jon Jay when he was traded to the Diamondbacks on June 6. Paulo Orlando was recalled in the immediate aftermath, but batted .156 (5 for 32) with 11 strikeouts and just two runs scored. When Jorge Soler, in the midst of a promising season, went on the disabled list after fracturing a bone in his foot, the Royals made a slew of roster moves to make up for it. Adalberto Mondesi and Rosell Herrera have driven in a combined nine of the Royals’ 21 runs dating to June 17.
But they haven’t helped stop the black hole that’s consumed the Royals’ offense, zapping it of its power and miring it in a stretch that has made this 2018 squad one of the worst Kansas City has ever seen.
“I’ve never seen anything like it,” manager Ned Yost said after the Royals were held to three hits in a 5-1 loss to the Brewers on Tuesday in Milwaukee. “I’ve never seen an offensive drought like we’ve had all month long. It’s pretty puzzling. There’s no answer for it.”
Below are the worst offensive months in Royals history, sorted by runs scored and excluding months in which the Royals played fewer than 18 games. The 2018 Royals squad has earned an easy spot in franchise infamy.
March/April 1984 – 69 runs, .254 batting average
March/April 1990 – 67, .259
March/April 1985 – 64, .235
March/April 2017 — 63, .210
March/April 1992 — 54, .207
June 2018 — 53, .190
March/April 1969 — 50, .221
The list tells you two things: It’s uncommon for the Royals to score so infrequently and hit so poorly beyond the first month of a season; and when they have struggled, they’ve hit at a higher clip.
The numbers are alarming.
Meanwhile, in 13 games for Class AAA Omaha, Bonifacio has hit .392 (20 for 51) with five doubles, one triple and nine RBIs during the rehab assignment he was given in anticipation of his reinstatement.
Never mind that he’s not quite an established major leaguer, having played just 113 games in his rookie season last year and batted .255 with 118 strikeouts. The threat of Bonifacio’s burgeoning power — he clubbed 17 homers and knocked 15 doubles at the major-league level — would force pitchers to approach the Royals differently.
Bonifacio could be the offensive spark the Royals have been missing, not only in June, but all season. The Royals are last in baseball with 283 runs this year, on pace to total 573. Even the 1994 Royals, in a strike-shortened season, scored 574 runs.
Counting on a 25-year-old who missed the first 80 games of the season to reverse the Royals’ fate seems like a long shot.
Then again, the Royals’ offense has done nothing to inspire awe without him. They might as well give Bonifacio a chance to impress them like he did as a rookie.